Creating Weapons for SCA Youth Combat

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Introduction: Creating Weapons for SCA Youth Combat

Hello everyone! In this Instructable, I'll be doing a complete walkthrough on how to make weapons for Youth Combat in the SCA, per East Kingdom standards. I'll be covering how to make a basic sword, two-handed weapons, axes, and give pointers on how to make anything else you could want.

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Step 1: Getting Started

Materials:
- Schedule 40 3/4" PVC
- End caps (3/4")
- Pipe foam
- Strapping Tape
- Duct Tape (Two contrasting colors)
- Athletic tape (Optional)

Tools:
- Scissors or knife
- Pipe cutter/hack saw/anything that will cut PVC
- Tape measure

Step 2: Preparing the PVC

The first thing we need to do is find the proper length that the weapon should be.

The standard length for a one handed weapon is equal to the distance between the user's hand and the ground, when the user's arm is hanging at rest. For me, that is 30", but I'm a little over 6 feet tall. The general idea is that when standing up straight, the user cannot touch the ground with their weapon.

Find this distance, and subtract 4". (For Div. 2 weapons, subtract 3.5") This subtracted distance will be made up for by the thrusting tip and padding on the butt. (Haha, butt.)

Personally, I prefer longer weapons, so I'm making this sword to be maximum length for a one-handed weapon in Division 3, 42". (Div. 2 max. is 36".) This means that my PVC should be 38" long.

-Measure
-Cut
-Cap it

Step 3: Strapping Tape

The strapping tape is to keep the shards of plastic from flying into your eyes if the weapon shatters. It's never really that dramatic, but the strapping tape does a pretty good job of keeping the PVC from flying apart if it breaks.

This is also the part that most people do incorrectly.

First you're going to do a lateral taping, which basically means "stripes going up and down".
These should start at the top of the end cap, so that when you're done, the whole cap is covered.
Going down the shaft, have a very small overlap, just enough to cover the whole surface of the weapon.

This is followed by a barber-pole style wrap. The space occupied by tape and the space not occupied should be about the same. In the picture below, black duct tape is used to show how to wrap, because it shows up better. YOU ARE NOT, I REPEAT, NOT ALLOWED TO USE DUCT TAPE FOR THIS STEP. FIBROUS STRAPPING TAPE MUST BE USED.

Next, you need to mark where your handle will end and your blade begin.
To do this, have the user hold the weapon with a gloved/gauntleted hand, and mark an inch or two above on the PVC as shown.

-Lateral Wrap
-Spiral Wrap
-Make Sure Every Surface Is Covered
-Mark the Hilt

Step 4: Thrusting Tip

This goes on the blade-end of the weapon, and allows is required if you want to be able to use the weapon for stabbing. If you don't want that, you can just do 1 1/2" of padding past the end cap.

The first step to making a long-lasting thrusting tip is to pad the very end of the PVC. This keeps the edges from digging into the foam. Most weapon failures occur when the tip of the PVC cuts through the foam and the thrusting tip falls off. To do this, cut a circle of foam, and tape it down.

Next, we make a "Snail." It's a terrible name, but a great technique for making a thrusting tip. What you do is cut a strip of foam a little more than 2 1/2" inches, (2 5/8" to be exact) and roll it up. Don't roll it too tight, or it will be too stiff. roll it, tape it, and get ready to pad the entire weapon.

Cut a length of foam that will extend from the handle to the end of the snail. Line up the snail at one end. Put some tape on the inside of the foam as per Fig. 6. This is more protection to keep the end cap from tearing through. Throw a few more layers on if you want, I used 2.

Step 5: Blade (Under Layer)

Now, the first piece of foam doesn't reach all the way around the PVC. To fill this gap, we're going to cut a small strip to fill it. (Your foam may reach all the way around, it just depends on the kind.)

The strip has to flare at the end, because the gap is much wider around the end cap.

I use short pieces of strapping tape all along the strip of foam to hold it together. You don't want any gaps that will be weaker than the rest of the foam.

Step 6: Blade (Over Layer)

Two more pieces of pipe foam should be enough to cover the whole blade one more time. Make sure not to overlap the seams. Doing so decreases the longevity of the foam.

You should run a strip of strapping tape down the two seams you are creating, pulling the foam edges together tightly. The seam it the weakest part of the weapon, and you need to reinforce it.

Step 7: Blade Taping

In this step, we're covering the whole of the foam with duct tape.

Start with the tip, an X of duct tape should cover everything. If it doesn't, tape over as needed.

Next, affix the foam to the PVC at the base with a few strips of duct tape going all the way around. Pull it tight so it doesn't rotate later.

Run lateral strips of tape from end to end to cover the rest of the foam. A ring of tape around the top and bottom of the blade will cover the ends of the lateral strips, keeping things tidy.

The blade edge is to be marked in a contrasting colored tape, I use red. I use a stripe of tape that is 1/3 the width of a ductape roll, about 1/2". The blade runs from tip to handle, and on both sides if you wish. If you are creating a weapon that doesn't have a back blade, (Like a katana) then only tape one side. Make sure the blade is not on a seam, since the seam won't hold up as well to the beatings you'll give the blade edge.

To mark a thrusting tip, run a second strip if tape over the first to create an X, and then tape a ring around the bottom of the X as shown.

I also tape a ring around the base of the blade because I like the way it looks, you don't have to if you don't want.

Step 8: Hilt and Pommel

First, we need to make the padding for the pommel. This is similar to the thrusting tip construction, except it's only 1/2" long, and needs no reinforcement.

Make a 1/2" snail, cut enough foam to cover the entirety of the end cap, and build up two layers. You should have no problem with this.

The next part is another of my personal innovations that I believe greatly enhances the control and feel of the sword.
I cut a thin strip of foam, about a 1/2" wide, and tape it to the PVC, lined up with the edge of the blade. This allows me to know exactly where the blade of my weapon is without having to look. It's also much more comfortable, and allows better control. (Note that the foam I used was blue. The gray stuff works fine, but I had a long strip of blue foam at hand.)

I used athletic tape to wrap the handle because it allows me to grip my weapon better without it sliding, unlike duct tape. You can use duct tape if you that's all you have, or tennis racquet handle tape if you want it to be REALLY grippy.

Step 9: Complete!

And that is how you make a Division 3 sword!

12 Discussions

"The blade or striking surface will be padded with foam pipe insulation for a 1" copper pipe then loosely covered with duct-tape"

It never mentions an outer layer of foam.

Is the outer foam layer necessary? I didn't see that anywhere in the youth combat handbook (div 3).

What is the wall thickness for the foam you use? Looks awfully thin,especially for 3/4" pipe.

how would you put extra width on it to make it a "Combat Cleaver"? Just more foam on one side? or more PVC?